Many of us grew up hearing the slogan “Reading Is FUN-damental,” meaning that being able to read is key to success in life. Being able to read allows us to learn all kinds of things and contribute to the world in many ways. The slogan also reminds us how much pleasure reading can give us and how much fun it is to explore new worlds and ideas through the written page. As a lifelong reader, I embrace this philosophy. I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without literacy.
However, there is something that is even more FUN-damental- giving. To me, the gift of being able to give is something that brings me a lot of joy. It also allows me to practice grace and contribute to many people in many ways. I would venture to say that God blesses what little I do and multiplies it so that I will never even know the full impact of my giving. I certainly hope that is the case when I read Matthew 22:36-39:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In the act of true giving, we show love for the God who first loved us and for our neighbors. I also submit to you that giving is a whole lot of fun.
I met a lady at our church recently who is a great example of how giving can be fun, as well as charitable. She did not want to draw attention to herself or appear to be bragging about her giving, so was reluctant for me to mention what she has been doing since the start of the pandemic to increase her charitable giving. I thought her story was so interesting, I believed it would help others to hear it. She agreed to let me tell her story if I did not identify her. I will respect her wishes.
When the pandemic started, she wanted to do something to help others who were having a more difficult time, as many of us did. She ended up working with a few immune-compromised people, doing their marketing and running some errands. She had no intention of taking money for these tasks, as she wanted to simply give of what she had- her time and relative good health. It did not feel like it would be much of a gift if people paid her to do it. On the other hand, the people she was helping felt extremely awkward about allowing her to assist them if she did not allow them to pay her. Since they were so insistent, she agreed, thinking the situation would only go on for a few weeks.
My church friend told me that she still wanted what she considered to be a minor sacrifice to be a gift, so she decided that she would give the money to others who needed help.
“It is like having my own private mini-foundation,” she told me. “Every month, I get to decide how to distribute the money. Sometimes, I add a little to my church pledge. Sometimes, I give money to the food bank. Sometimes, I buy supermarket gift cards and send them anonymously to people I know may be struggling. At Christmas time, I made it a point to eat at various small restaurants that I frequent and gave the servers $20 tips on a $10 check. It is so fun! Giving is a great hobby!”
Her enthusiasm for giving was infectious. She seemed to get so much satisfaction out of helping people. I think she especially got a charge out of doing it in surprising situations and doing it anonymously. She told me her goal was to create delight… both for the recipients and for God. She intends to continue, even if it needs to be to a lesser extent once she is no longer getting the extra money for running errands. She wonders, too, if God will continue to lead her to opportunities to find that extra money so that she need not decrease her giving.
I agree with her. Giving is a great hobby. I am going to take a page from her book and begin my own campaign of random acts of giving. Let the delightfulness begin!
How do you best enjoy giving to others? Do you have particular strategies for deciding how and to whom you give? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a loving day!